Interact Club helps make a wish come true

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Mayor Ken Cockayne, left, and Chief Thomas Grimaldi present commendations to officers Eric Hanson and Gregory Giannini.

by JAMILA YOUNG

STAFF WRITER

The Bristol Central High School Interact Club has partnered with Make A Wish CT for 22 years, by hosting an annual powder-puff game, and giving the proceeds to Make A Wish CT. This started when an Interact club member’s mother was dying of breast cancer, and she wanted to give back.

The club presented a $1,000 check to Donor Experience Manager, Christina Alt of Make A Wish CT, located in Trumbull, CT. Alt said they grant wishes to people ages 2 ½ to 18 years old. The average cost of a wish is $10,000, and takes an average of 9 months to be granted.

Alt has been working for Make A Wish for three years. She started as a volunteer for 10 years, and then became a Wish Granter.

“As soon as I met with the first Wish kid that I was working with, I left and I said, wow, that was the most unique and rewarding experience that I’ve had in a very long time if not ever,” said Alt. “I’m committed to this mission; it means so much to me, and I want it to be a bigger part of my life. I transitioned to working fulltime for Make A Wish CT.”

This year the Interact club members got to see their work help one of their own. Caitlin Hildebrand is a member of Interact who has Crohn’s Disease. She was in the hospital for 30 days on four different occasions, and a nurse at the hospital nominated her as a Make A Wish recipient.

“I was someone who thought that Make A Wish was just for terminal kids,” said Hildebrand. “My parents gave me the envelope, and I opened it up. My dad was recording me, and I was like, what is going on? I looked at the envelope, and I was like, I’m not dying. Am I dying? Knowing that my nurse knew what I went through, and she thought it was good to nominate me, and that I deserved it was really nice.”

“When the Wish granter came to the house to talk to Caitlin about it, halfway through the conversation I had to stop her and say Caitlin’s feeling really guilty about this because even though she spent three months in the hospital, and she had lost all that weight, and was malnutrition, and had to have surgery, she’s on medications feeling good, she’s like there are other kids out there that probably deserve it more than I do,” said Hildebrand’s mom, Michele Hildebrand. “The Make A Wish Granter said this is a celebration of everything you’ve gone through.”

Caitlin’s wish was to go to Farm Sanctuary in California after her Interact Advisor, Kelly Monahan showed a video about it. There is a Farm Sanctuary located in New York, but since Caitlin had already been to New York, she chose to go to the California location.

“At first we were going to have to pay for my three oldest brothers to go, and then my Granter said we’ll be able to get all four,” said Hildebrand. “Knowing that they were trying their hardest to get all of them there with me was awesome. They made sure the house could accommodate for all seven of us, and they got a van that could fit all seven of us in it.”

“The whole experience was really great; they do just think of everything, and they take care of you,” said Caitlin’s dad, Kyle Hildebrand. “They don’t want you to worry about the time you’re away, they just want you to focus on family, and just enjoy the time.”